Acts 26:24
At this stage of Paul's defense, Festus exclaimed in a loud voice, "You are insane, Paul! Your great learning is driving you to madness!"
The Nature of EnthusiasmJohn Wesley Acts 26:24
Patti's Defence Before AgrippaD. C. Hughes.Acts 26:1-32
Paul Before AgrippaJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 26:1-32
Paul Before AgrippaD. Katterns.Acts 26:1-32
Paul Before AgrippaJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 26:1-32
Paul Before Festus and AgrippaE. Johnson Acts 26:1-32
Paul's Defence Before AgrippaD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 26:1-32
Paul's Defence Before AgrippaJ. W. Burn.Acts 26:1-32
Paul's Sermon Before AgrippaT. D. Witherspoon, D. D.Acts 26:1-32
Paul's Stretched-Out ArmK. Gerok.Acts 26:1-32
That Many Rest Upon a Strict Way of ReligionA. Burgess.Acts 26:1-32
The Apostolic Defense in the Presence of Festus and AgrippaR.A. Redford Acts 26:1-32
A Moral DuelHomilistActs 26:24-25
A Preacher's Sanity QuestionedActs 26:24-25
Christian Enthusiasm, its ReasonablenessActs 26:24-25
Earnest Christianity Vindicated from the Charge of MadnessThomas Baron.Acts 26:24-25
Evangelistic MadnessActs 26:24-25
Illustrious Fools and MadmenJ. Cuttell.Acts 26:24-25
Paul and Festus -- a ContrastBp. Lightfoot.Acts 26:24-25
The Effects of Paul's Defence on FestusD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 26:24-25
The Sanity of PaulJ. W. Burn.Acts 26:24-25
The Upper ClassesW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 26:24-25
The Wise AnswerOliver Cromwell.Acts 26:24-25
The World's Estimate of ChristianityJ. W. Burn.Acts 26:24-25
Who is Mad Paul or FestusK. Gerok.Acts 26:24-25
Who is the MadmanActs 26:24-25
An Unwilling Contribution to the TruthP.C. Barker Acts 26:24-26
The Christian's DesireW. Clarkson Acts 26:24-28
A Threefold Illustration of the Irrepressible Energy of the TruthP.C. Barker Acts 26:24-32

The point of deepest interest in this scene is Paul's reply to Agrippa. There the nobility of the apostle is conspicuously present. But it is worth while to glance, first, at -

I. THE BLINDNESS OF SIN. (Ver. 24.) It makes mistakes of the greatest magnitude; it looks at the wisdom of God and mistakes it for madness. So it judged incarnate wisdom (John 10:30). So we are to expect it will judge us; for "the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man" (1 Corinthians 2:14), whether he be Greek (1 Corinthians 1:23) or Roman (text). That the whole Gentile world should be redeemed from sin and led by repentance into the kingdom of God by means of a suffering Savior - this, which is the wisdom of God, deep and Divine, seemed to the proud man of the world nothing better than insanity itself. Enlightened by his Spirit, we detect in this the very essence of Divine wisdom. If the eternal Father, looking down upon us, sees his own wise procedure mistaken for and spoken of as madness, may we not be content that our human schemes and plans should sometimes receive the faint approval, or even the direct condemnation, of our fellows?

II. THE CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE UNDER ATTACK. Paul was not abashed by the sudden outbreak of Festus, nor did he give way to unsuitable and injudicious resentment. He replied with calmness and dignity to the insulting charge of his Roman judge (ver. 25). When assailed in this way - when charged with folly, error, fanaticism, or even madness - the best thing we can do is to bear ourselves calmly, retaining mental and moral equability. This is the best way to disprove the allegations that are made.

(1) First let us be well assured of our position, not taking our ground until we have made all necessary inquiries and have every possible guarantee that we are on the side of "truth and soberness;" and then

(2) let us refuse to be disconcerted by abuse, oppose quiet dignity to angry crimination, and show a conscious rectitude which is far superior to violence, whether of word or deed.

III. THE CHRISTIAN'S DESIRE FOR ALL WHOM HE CAN REACH. Paul turned appealingly from Festus to Agrippa. Some points in common there must be, he felt, between himself and his royal countryman (vers. 26, 27). The king put off the prisoner with a courtly sarcasm (ver. 28); but the apostle was not thus to be silenced. In noble language and with touching allusion to the fetters he wore, he expressed the earnest wish that, whether with ease or with difficulty, not only the king himself, but all who heard him, might be "such as he was." A pure and passionate desire filled his soul that all whom he could anywise affect might be elevated and blessed by that ennobling truth which the risen Savior had revealed to him. This holy earnestness of his may remind us:

1. That the truth of the gospel is that which can be indefinitely extended without making any man the poorer. If a man divides his gold among the poor, be loses it himself, but he who imparts heavenly wisdom, Christian influence, gains as he gives.

2. That it is the tendency of Christian truth to make its possessor desire to extend it. The contemplation of a God of love, the study of the life and spirit of the self-sacrificing Savior, the purity of the joy which it inspires in the human heart, - these are fitted to produce in the soul a holy yearning to extend to others the blessedness we enjoy.

3. That it becomes us to put forth all our talents to diffuse the knowledge and to spread the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The thought of millions of souls starving that might feed on the bread of life should animate us with keen desire and scud us with elastic step in the path of deliverance and of life. - C.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself.
I. THE CHARGE OF FESTUS. He did not denounce Paul as a hypocrite or a knave, but rather as a brainless fanatic. This impression, though false, might have been sincere. The charge of madness against the earnest advocates of Christianity is very —

1. Easy. It requires no thought. Nothing is less difficult than to dispose of great questions in this way.

2. Common. It is what the careless and the profligate are constantly alleging against earnest teachers.

3. Foolish. Because no class of men are influenced by higher reason than the genuine advocates of religion. Posterity has long since decided who was the madman, Paul or Festus.


1. He respectfully denies the charge.

2. He describes the true character of his teaching. "Truth" here stands opposed to falsehood, and "soberness" to mental derangement. "I speak," as if Paul had said, "the words of reality and the words of reason.

3. He obliquely rebukes Festus. He turns from him as if he would ignore his existence, and addresses himself to the king. As if Paul had said to Festus, It is not surprising that you cannot understand me; you are not a Jew. You have already misunderstood me. I am not speaking to you, but to the king; for the king knoweth of these things," etc. In thus acknowledging the king's acquaintance with the subject, Paul's aim was not to flatter the monarch, but to humble Festus.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

1. It was no even-handed contest in which the apostle found himself engaged. It was the occasion of a great state ceremonial, a Dhurbar, when the Imperial Viceroy received the welcome and the homage of the most powerful native prince. Just at this time he had a quarrel with the Jews and was anxious to secure the support of Festus. He had recently added to the palace of the Herods a lofty dining hall from which his guests could look down upon the inner temple. The priests and guardians of the sacred precincts resented this act, and therefore built up a high wall, and shut out the king's view. Agrippa resented this indignity, and endeavoured to get the restriction removed. He applied to Festus for aid; and Festus warmly espoused his cause. All this we have on the authority of Josephus. I mention the fact here for two reasons. It illustrates —(1) The historical accuracy of the sacred narrative. The narrative of St. Luke and that of Josephus fit together as separate pieces of an historical whole.(2) The relative proportions of events which men inevitably take who are mixed up in them. The aggressive insolence of Agrippa was the one topic of general interest at the time. But this interview with Paul, who cared for it? Yet time has wholly reversed the verdict of contemporary history. Of the magnificent palace of the Herods, or the goodly buildings of the temple, not one stone is left standing upon another. The aggressiveness of Agrippa and the policy of Festus have alike passed away, but the words of St. Paul are living and germinating and fructifying still. The quarrel of Agrippa has vanished out of sight, the pleading of Paul is the inheritance of all ages.

2. The attitude of Festus towards St. Paul more especially demands our attention. Festus was not a man whose opinion could be lightly disregarded. We have not here to do with the sceptical, worldly, cynical Pilate, or a cruel, reckless profligate like Felix; but with a just, sincere, outspoken, prompt and vigorous ruler, the very man to whom in the common affairs of life we should entrust our case with confidence. Nothing could be more upright than his treatment of the prisoner from first to last. But he has no ideas and no aspirations beyond. When the future and the unseen are mentioned he is lost in confusion; he is as helpless in dealing with such topics of thought as one who is blind in discriminating the hues of the rainbow. He is blunt, even to contempt, when he refers to "one Jesus which was dead whom Paul yet affirmed to be alive." This was decisive to his mind. Could any sane man maintain an absurdity like this! He listens for a time with patience while Paul pleads his cause, but at length he can no longer restrain himself. He is confirmed now in his first surmise. He rudely interrupts the prisoner, shouting rather than speaking, "Thou art mad, Paul!" All this talk about sin and repentance, and forgiveness and salvation, what is this but the very phantom of a diseased brain? This story of the apparition on the way to Damascus with the light and the loud voice has nothing in common with the solid experiences, the stern matter-of-fact duties of the Roman magistrate, and, in short, with the acknowledged realities of human life.

3. Yes, it was sheer madness —(1) To commit social suicide as this Paul had done. He had given up a high and honourable position among his fellow countrymen; he was on the high road to preferment, and yet he suddenly gave up all — for what? To become an outcast; to be hated by the Jews and scorned by the Greeks; to drag out a miserable career of penury, of suffering, of toil and of danger; to be spurned by all men as the very filth and offscouring of society. Who has put the case more strongly than himself? Aye! he knew, no one could know better, that he was irretrievably mad as the world counts madness. "We are fools," he says of himself, "we are fools for Christ's sake."(2) To profess such a creed as Paul did. Whoever heard before of one claiming the allegiance and the worship of the whole world for a crucified malefactor? There was no difference of opinion here between Jew and Greek. On most questions affecting religion the one spoke a language quite unintelligible to the other; but here there was absolute unanimity of sentiment — Festus, Agrippa, Roman soldier, and Hebrew priest, alike must join in condemning these rovings. Here again no one knew better than the apostle himself how his teaching was regarded by the learning and the sagacity of his age. He knew it, he gloried in it, he invited all men to become mad as he was mad. This very madness, he maintained, was the indispensable condition of all higher knowledge. "If any man thinketh to be wise in this world let him become a fool that he may be wise."

4. So, then, two wholly irreconcilable views of life confronted each other in Festus and Paul. Paul was sincere. Festus was also sincere. And yet between the two there is a yawning and impassable gulf. If Festus is right, Paul is mad. If Paul is right, Festus is blind.

5. From an evidential point of view this scene would suggest not a few important reflections.(1) I may point, e.g., to the calmness and sobriety of the apostle's statement, to the perfect assurance with which he details the history of his conversion and the grounds of his belief, to the manly and courteous simplicity with which he replies to the rebuke of Festus, and the sarcasm of Agrippa. Certainly nothing is more unlike the raving of the maniac.(2) I might turn away from the scene itself to its results. The civilised world, after long wavering and much halting, did ultimately prefer the madness of Paul to the sanity of Festus. Reflect how enormous has been the gain to mankind from this preference, and how irretrievable would have been the loss if it had taken Festus instead of Paul. Christianity rescued a helpless world which was hastening to its ruin, endowed society with fresh vigour and youth by infusing into it new aspirations and hopes; and this reinvigorating influence contained in itself the potentiality of all that is noblest and best in modern civilisation and life.

6. But it is a practical and not an intellectual conviction which I would wish to enforce upon you — the magnitude of the alternative. No ingenuity or indifference can bridge over the gulf which separates the view of human life, taken by Festus, from the view of it by St. Paul — the view taken by the upright and reasonable man of the world, who lives only in the present, and the view taken by the Christian, whose whole soul is dominated with the presence of God, with the consciousness of sin, and with the conviction of eternity. God forbid that we should speak meanly of honesty, truth, uprightness, whatever in human life is lovely and of good report. But still the fact remains. Here are two antagonistic views of human life and human destiny. Men may strive to patch up a hollow compromise between them, but no truce can be real because no meeting point is visible. It is the alternative of sanity and madness, of light and darkness, of life and death. If you have decided that the Christian view is sanity, is light, is life, then it must not, it cannot be inoperative in you. It will pervade your whole life, and breathe the breath of heaven into the work of earth. All this stands to reason. It cannot be a matter of indifference whether you are responsible in your actions only to the judgments of human society or to an all-seeing Eye, who overlooks, misinterprets misjudges nothing. It cannot be a matter of indifference whether wrong-doing is simply a violation of order, attended with inconvenient consequences, or whether it is sin, that is, a rebellious defiance of an all-righteous, all-holy, Father in heaven; whether He who walked upon our earth eighteen centuries ago was a lunatic; or whether He was indeed the only begotten Son of God; whether this life is our entire life, or whether there is an eternal hereafter before which the triumphs of the present are just nothing at all. This, then, I say, this is the tremendous alternative. There is no halting between two opinions here; the chasm is broad and fathomless. Accept, therefore, the alternative which you have chosen; accept it with all its consequences, think over it, master it, live it. Men will taunt you with your inconsistency; but be not discouraged by this. Let the taunt nerve you to greater efforts. The inconsistency must necessarily be greater as the ideal is higher. Festus, no doubt, was a much more consistent man than St. Paul. The standard of Festus was the ordinary standard of honourable men, and it would seem he did not fall far short of it. The standard of St. Paul was absolute self-negation, and he is constantly bewailing his shortcomings. The mere voluptuary is far more consistent than either. His aim is sensual pleasure, and he devotes himself to it heart and soul. Endure to be called madman when you stand before the judgment seat of Festus. That is inevitable; only remember meanwhile that you are the sons of God, heirs of eternity.

(Bp. Lightfoot.)

In one of his works the late Charles Kingsley makes the suggestive and vigorous remark that "there never was anyone who spoke out the truth yet on the earth, who was not called a 'howling idiot' for his pains at first." And to anyone who is at all acquainted with the general facts and teachings of history, the remark will appear by no means too sweeping. It may not perhaps be very difficult to get at the root and reason of this ascription of folly and madness to men of strong religious earnestness and devotion. The madman, for instance, is very frequently a man of one idea. Some one oppressive thought has burnt itself into his brain, absorbs his attention by day, and colours his dreams by night, and he seems to know and care for nothing beside. And it is not therefore much to be wondered at that men of the world, to whom money, power, pleasure, luxury, are the sole ends of existence, should transfer this aspect of a disordered mind to those who have lived and laboured under the impulsion of strong religious enthusiasm, and brand them as monomaniacs. "Heretic!" "Fool!" "Fanatic!" "Madman!" "Antichrist!" those and many more such-like epithets of choice, ecclesiastical Billingsgate were shot at Luther from the catapults of the Pope and the priests of Rome. John Wesley, the great religious reformer of the last century, did not escape being placed in "shame's high pillory"; while the great leaders and pioneers of the modern missionary movement, as we know, took very high rank in the category of reputed "fools and madmen." The mission of William Carey to India was publicly characterised in the British House of Commons by one of its aristocratic members, as "the mission of a madman"; and even such a man as Sydney Smith, the witty canon of St. Paul's, found in the first batch of missionaries that went out for the evangelisation of the heathen, what he thought fit targets for the arrows of his caustic wit and satire. "Little detachments of maniacs!" was the only sentence which his Christian charity could find wherewith to label them. In the domain of science we have the case of Robert Bacon, of whom it has been said by Dr. Friend that "he was the miracle of his age, and possessed perhaps the greatest genius for mechanical science that has been known since the days of Archimedes." And how was this brilliant experimental philosopher of the thirteenth century treated when he had made known those wonderful discoveries in chemistry, astronomy, and mechanics, which were all anticipations of the inventions and findings of modern science? Why, as all readers of English history are well aware, he was accused by the ignorant monks of his order of being possessed with the devil. It was affirmed that he was a practiser of the black art, and was aided in his search for the philosopher's stone by infernal spirits. These accusations, together with eleven or twelve years' close confinement in a cell, were the rewards which his bigoted and fanatical contemporaries meted out to the "early star preceding dawn" of experimental science and philosophy. And the same rule we shall find holding good in relation to others who were conspicuous pioneers and factors in the social and material progress of the people. Especially was this the case with regard to the discoverers and propounders of the propelling power of steam, and to its practical application in the form of locomotive steam engines, steam vessels, and the like, for the promotion of more expeditious modes of travelling. The germ idea of the steam engine is doubtless to be traced to the machines, diagrams, and writings of Solomon de Caus; although the Marquis of Worcester is generally acknowledged to be the inventor. And yet both these men were accounted lunatics by their contemporaries, because of their doctrine concerning the moving power of steam. The former, we are told, "travelled from Normandy to Paris to present a treatise to Louis XIII on the subject. His minister, Cardinal Richelieu, dismissed the applicant, and on account of his importunity imprisoned him as a 'dangerous madman.'" And the latter, the Marquis of Worcester, was accounted not only a quack, but an impostor, and had to suffer the most bitter reverses on account of his advocacy of the brilliant discovery which his observing genius had made. Those who followed in the footsteps of these men, and who carried out their theories and principles to such glorious issues, may not have had to encounter quite such bitter persecution; nevertheless they had to run the gauntlet of the mockery and opposition of those whose ignorance prevented them from perceiving, or whose interests precluded them from entertaining, such so-called "mad" and impracticable projects. When Fulton proposed to navigate the river Hudson in a steamboat he was met with rude jokes, incredulous smiles, and contemptuous sneers by the wiseacres of his day, who charitably denounced his idea as the silliest that ever entered a silly brain. And when George Stephenson, the "Father of English Railways," proposed to run a train from Woolwich to London at the amazing rate of fourteen miles an hour, he was not only regarded by many as an impracticable dreamer, but by some as betraying premonitory symptoms of fitness for Bedlam and a straitjacket. It was the old trick of calling a man mad who is in advance of his fellows, until the madness becomes contagious and the tables turn; then, like the good boy in the fairy tale, on whose head the fool's cap, placed there by his scoffing brothers, turned into a crown, the jeers of opponents become transmuted into praise, and the very nicknames of such madmen become glorious. Additional and similar illustrations of the point we are seeking to set out lie ready to hand for gleaning in other field s of human thought and activity, but which can only be indicated. It is, for instance, a well-known fact that Mesmer, the discoverer of animal magnetism, was thought to be possessed of Satanic agency when he propounded his theory and made known his wonderful discovery; and had he lived at one time in England he would in all probability have been burnt to death at the stake as a wizard. As it was he was bitterly persecuted, his life threatened, and for a time he suffered imprisonment. The annals of political reform would also supply striking examples of the same thing, as the cases of Cobden, Bright, and Villiers would abundantly testify, who were branded as "fools and fanatics" for the part they played in the abolition of the Corn Laws, by which the death-knell of protective monopolies was rung, and the cheap loaf placed upon the poor man's table. So, too, with the records of the great Temperance reform. The pioneers of that great social movement had to pay the penalty of men in advance of their time, of being looked upon and labelled as "fools and madmen."

(J. Cuttell.)


1. What it is. That earnest Christians are beside themselves. The world has no objection to act upon the principle "live and let live." If Christians will only quietly go their own way they are welcome to it — to all their strange worship, doctrines, mode of living, hopes, etc. But when all this is pressed upon the devotees of business, pleasure, politics, etc., and declared to be the one thing needful, it evidences insanity and must be called by its proper name. What have practical common-sense men of the world to do with such dreams?

2. By whom it is entertained —(1) By too many of the world's magnates in the State, science, literature, commerce. Men who are wholly occupied with interests, in their view of vastly greater moment.(2) By men who ought to know better. Agrippa probably held the same view as Festus, although he professedly held many of Paul's primary beliefs. So there are many like Festus in our congregations. As long as the preacher is content with expounding in a quiet manner and in polished sentences the commonly accepted principles of morality, they can bear with him; but as soon as he presses home with earnestness upon the conscience the awful realities of time and destiny it is set aside as vulgar madness.

3. Upon what it is founded.(1) With Festus some attribute it to learning — over-taxation of the brain. The mind has been so overwhelmed with contemplation that it has lost its balance.(2) Others put it down to narrowness or superficiality. The man does not think deeply enough, or his reading has not been sufficiently extensive, or he would know that the subjects which he declaims are open questions, and he would submit as hypotheses what he now insists on as dogmas.(3) Others say it is the result of an unbalanced system in which passion is allowed to usurp the place of reason.


1. A strange thing is not necessarily the sign of madness nor the setter forth of them a madman. Otherwise Festus's charge would hold good in regard to some of the greatest men who have ever lived. What great discoverer, scientist, inventor, philanthropist, has not at first been thought mad — e.g., Colombus, Galileo, Stephenson, Howard, Wilberforce, etc.

2. Were it otherwise with the Christian the charge might well be substantiated. Knowing what Paul did, would he not have been beside himself if he had not acted as he did. To feel the greatness of the gospel facts and issues, and to suppress them or be indifferent to them — that is madness.

3. Who would not rather be mad with Paul than sane with Festus when we compare the character of each, and the service each rendered to the world?

4. Whether Christianity is insanity or truth and soberness can be tested by its effects. Does it drive men mad, or does it make them truthful and sober? Let Christian lives, institutions, literature, furnish the reply.

(J. W. Burn.)

Once, at Wotton, Rowland Hill was carried away by the impetuous rush of his feelings, and exclaimed, "Because I am in earnest men call me an enthusiast, but I am not; mine are the words of truth and soberness. I once saw a gravel pit fall in, and bury three human beings alive. I shouted so loud for help that I was heard at the distance of a mile; help came, and rescued two of the poor sufferers. No one called me an enthusiast then; and when I see eternal destruction ready to fall on poor sinners, and about to entomb them irrecoverably in an eternal mass of woe, and call aloud on them to escape, shall I be called an enthusiast now?"

When Dr. Chalmers was converted, the change in his ministry was quickly apparent to all. The rationalists, to whose class he had belonged, commonly said: "Tom Chalmers is mad." Some years after, when he was settled in Glasgow, a lady and gentleman on their way to hear him met a friend, who asked where they were going. On being told, he said, "What! to hear that madman?" They persuaded him to go for once and do the same, promising never to dispute with him about that title again, if he were inclined to apply it to the preacher after his sermon. To the surprise of all three, when Dr. Chalmers gave out his text, it was, "I am not mad, most noble Felix, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness." The sceptical hearer was not only convinced of the preacher's sanity, but he was likewise converted to faith in Evangelical truth.

? — Lieutenant Watson, a godly officer, in the Peninsular War, had to halt with his regiment for some minutes in the presence of the French, and in the prospect of immediate battle. "While so circumstanced," he said, "several wounded men were carried by, the blood streaming through the stretchers on which they were borne. I was standing near several young officers who had often made me a subject of ridicule. I thought it a good opportunity to speak a word which might prove in season, and began by remarking, "You have often called me a fool and a madman, but a few moments may decide the question, with whom is madness and folly, in the presence of Him who is the Dispenser of life and death." A solemn awe seemed to impress them for the moment, and I went on to speak of Him who had deprived death of its sting, by receiving it in His own body on the accursed tree. They begged and entreated of me to stop, and said at such a time it was cruel to torture their minds with such things."

? — Who is mad?


1. Founds his faith on the sure revelation of God and the experience of the heart;

2. Regulates his life according to the commands of God, and makes sure steps on the narrow path of holiness;

3. Places his hopes on an eternity, which, amid all the changes of time, is ever before his eyes?


1. Blindly derides what he cannot comprehend with his senses;

2. Staggers, the sport of his passions, helplessly on the broad road that leads to destruction;

3. Seeks his happiness in the present, which vanishes like a dream, and leaves nothing behind but a terrible awaking?

(K. Gerok.)

As soon as Berridge, of Everton, began to preach in a different strain from the neighbouring clergy they felt hurt at the emptiness of their own churches and the fulness of his. The squire, too, was much offended; he did not like to see so many strangers, and be so incommoded, and endeavoured to turn Mr. Berridge out of his living by a complaint to his bishop. Berridge being sent for by his lordship, was accosted thus: "Well, Berridge, they tell me you go about preaching out of your own parish; did I institute you to any other than Everton?" "No, my lord." "Well, then, you preach where you have no right to." "It is true, my lord; I remember seeing five or six clergyman out of their own parishes playing at bowls." "Pho, if you do not desist, you will very likely be sent to Huntingdon jail." "As to that, my lord, I have no greater liking to a jail than other people; but I had rather go there with a good conscience, than be at liberty with a bad one." Here his lordship, looking hard at Berridge, gravely assured him, "he was beside himself, and that in a few months he would be better or worse." "Then," said he, "my lord, you may make yourself easy in this business; for if I am better, you must suppose I shall desist of my own accord; and if worse, you need not send me to jail, as I shaft be provided with an accommodation in Bedlam.

But he said, I am not mad.
I. THE CHARGE. "Thou art beside thyself."

1. It is urged by the avowed infidel against the professor of Christianity. The idea of regenerating society by means of the gospel is looked upon as being an insane dream.

2. It is urged by the nominal Christian against the earnest practiser and propagator of Christianity. Religion is quite right in its place, but let it keep there, else it will become a bore. Do not bring it into social life. Be religious quietly and respectably.

II. THE VINDICATION. "I am not mad, most noble Festus." The vindication is polite.

1. The earnest Christian proves his superior wisdom by the end at which he aims — the regeneration of the heart, and the perfect development of the whole man.

2. The earnest Christian proves his superior wisdom by the means which he employs. These means are two fold.(1) Faith in Christianity as a system.(2) Devotion to Christ as a person.

(a)Personal surrender. "Ye are Christ's."

(b)Enthusiastic service - advocacy, giving, and working.Admitting, then, the aim to be flight and wise, art not the means exclusively suitable? What but Christianity can regenerate and perfect man? Cold consent to a creed cannot do it. Enthusiasm has done every good thing that has been done in this world. Formalism hinders.

3. The earnest Christian proves his superior wisdom by the success which he achieves.Conclusion: Who is the madman, the accused or the accuser? The accuser assuredly.

1. The avowed infidel is a fool. He is not sure that Christianity is a delusion or an imposition. He is resting upon a most improbable supposition.

2. The nominal Christian is a greater fool. He says he believes in the existence of God, in the Divinity of the Bible, in the claims of Christ, in the realities of eternity; yet he lives as though he believed them not. His practice belies his profession.

(Thomas Baron.)

Concerning the two duellists in the text, notice —

1. Both were signally able men. The speech of Festus (see Acts 25:27) shows this, and the high position to which his abilities had raised him. Paul was not less able, but even more so.

2. Both were well known.

3. Both had distinguished spectators. There were present Agrippa, the king, "the chief captains," and the principal men of the city."

I. AS SECULARISM REPRESENTED IN THE ATTACK OF THE ONE. Festus was a man of the world, a worldling, a strong, enlightened, talented secularist. Two remarks concerning this attack.

1. It was dealt out by a man of distinguished power.

2. It was prompted by motives that seemed reasonable.


1. The defence was direct. Paul says, "I am not mad."

2. The defence was rational. He says, "I speak forth the words of truth and soberness."

3. The defence was respectful. Paul addresses his accuser as "most noble [R.V., excellent] Festus."


Proved by —

I. HIS MANNER ALL THROUGH THIS TRYING TIME. He had endured enough to turn the strongest brain. The violence of the mob; the narrow escapes from scourging and assassination, with all the tremendous anxieties connected therewith, and with his trials before the various tribunals; the hope deferred by the policy of Felix; the strain involved by the appeal to Caesar, and now his arraignment before a crowded and distinguished court. Who else could have endured all this without mental derangement? Yet we see Paul uniformly calm, courteous, courageous, conciliatory, quick to see and prompt to seize every favouring opportunity, and adapting himself with an ease amounting to genius to every circumstance in which he was placed. If this is madness, who then is sane?

II. THE MATTER OF HIS DEFENCE. Two or three years had passed since his defence on the stairs, and nearly a quarter of a century since the event he describes. The slightest touch of insanity would be easy to detect in the inevitable variation of some important details. Yet all these accounts are consistent. No lapse of memory, no mental indistinctness or weakness is observable. No man ever gave the same account of an hallucination twice, and no man ever suffered for one as Paul did for his vision of Christ, or ever utilised it for the benefit of the race.

III. THE EFFECTS OF HIS CONDUCT ON THE WORLD. What madman has turned the course of history, which was running in a wrong direction, into the right? To morally revolutionise the world, to secure for his Master a following which no man can number of the very elect of the race, and to secure a place in the affections of untold millions, are hardly effects which we should attribute to the work of a madman.

IV. THE COMMON CONSENT OF THE WISEST AND BEST of the past eighteen centuries who have found in Paul's words salvation from sin, comfort in sorrow, stimulus to high endeavour and hope in death.

(J. W. Burn.)

Does a man speak foolishly? — suffer him gladly, for you are wise. Does he speak erroneously? — stop such a man's mouth with sound words which cannot be gainsaid. Does he speak truly? — rejoice in the truth.

(Oliver Cromwell.)

Most noble Festus.
1. Years ago an attached domestic, presuming on the privilege accorded to his class, roundly reproved his master for the sin of swearing, and gave a broad hint about the judgment to come. The laird, feeling that he had not a leg to stand on, cut the matter short by the remark, "It has pleased Providence to place our family in a superior position in this world, and I trust He will do the same in the next." This is a real case, but in our day a rare one. On the other side there are everywhere many who wear coronets and pray. But between the two extremes of good and evil in the upper ten thousand how many diversities there are in character and circumstances.

2. Paul could appreciate another man's difficulties, and sympathise with those whose position magnified the offence of the Cross. There was strength in him, but there was sensibility also. He can neither be weak nor rude. He knew that it was harder for the Roman governor than for a meaner man to obey the gospel. He will not flatter him, nor suggest that there is a private door to admit him to heaven; yet in his polite address lies a principle permanent, precious, practical.

3. We speak of aristocracy in no narrow or technical sense, but of the uppermost state of society, whether birth, wealth, energy, intellect or learning may have been the immediate cause of their elevation. Now, while it is true that such need and get the offer of salvation on the same terms as those who stand on a lower platform, it is also true that some temptations peculiar to themselves increase their difficulty of accepting the gospel.

4. One of our Lord's sayings in reference to the aristocracy of wealth throws light on our theme (Matthew 19:23, 24). Assuming that the needle's eye represents the low, narrow door through the wall of a fortified city for use by night or time of war, when the great entrance must be shut — you have here a passage from danger into safety, not impracticable in its own nature, but impracticable to a camel because of its huge bulk. Thus the elevation of the highest class makes their entrance into Christ's kingdom more difficult. Of this difficulty Jesus speaks with tenderness, and Paul follows His steps. "Most noble Festus," he said, observing that the dignity of the governor was holding high the head of a sinful creature, and hindering him from bowing before the Cross of Christ, and he said it to gratify the great man's feelings, and so to get the lost man saved.

5. From the style of the apostle's address a lesson shines, sending out its light beams, teaching two opposite classes of men.

I. FOR ARDENT CHRISTIANS OF EVERY RANK AND ESPECIALLY CHRISTIANS OF HUMBLE STATION. If you are true disciples, none will dispute your nobility. If you are born again, you are high born, how low soever your place in the registers of earth. But beware of presuming upon your place and privilege. Be conscious of your defects, and meek in your deportment; be all things to all men that by all means you may save some. In particular, beware of throwing a stumbling block in the way of the noble, the rich, or the refined, by any species of rudeness. Take care lest you mistake vulgarity for faithfulness, and your ignorance for the simplicity that is in Christ. There are some near you who have not yet submitted to the gospel; their elevation makes it harder for them to bow down and go in by the strait gate. Had you stood on an equal height, perhaps you would not have been within the gate today. Be careful; what if they should turn away from Christ because of some rudeness they saw in you. Think of their peculiar difficulties; do not make them greater; take some out of the way if you can. He that winneth souls is wise.

II. FOR THE "MOST NOBLE" OF EVERY CLASS there lies a lesson here. We frankly own that there are nobles among men. We address our chiefs, as Paul addressed Festus, and give the title of respect which is due. Sirs, you cherish a high sense of honour, you have a refined taste, you have exercised your understanding, and cannot pay any deference to mere assertion. Well, what follows? Great and good though these attainments be, what are you profited if you lose your soul? Strive to enter by the strait gate, for your attainments may be so worn as to imperil your salvation. Finally, beware of allowing the rudeness and other defects of those who profess to be Christians to scare you away from Christ. It will be no consolation to you if you are not saved, if you are able to convict Christians of faults. You are not asked to believe in Christians but in Christ.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

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